Feature Article

August 11, 2012

Mobility TechZone Week in Review

It wouldn’t be a week in review without first catching up on the latest in the Apple-Samsung United States patent infringement lawsuit. We’ve actually reached a preliminary conclusion ourselves. As we write, both Apple and Samsung have just added to the drama by having to reveal formerly secret sales numbers.

Apple has sold nearly 86 million iPhones in the U.S. from when the phone first launched in 2007 through the second quarter of this year. The company has sold 34 million iPads in the United States since the product launched in 2010 and through the second quarter of this year.

By comparison, Samsung has sold 21 million smartphones in the U.S. and just 1.4 million tablets between June 2010 and June of this year. One caveat here is that these numbers only include Samsung products that are accused of infringing on Apple patents, but these Samsung's most important products.

Samsung has also made waves this week by doing nothing more than showing up in various analyst musings an speculation on a possible RIM/Samsung M&A deal. We believe such an endgame would be quite beneficial to RIM. Samsung has also struck a deal with Sprint that will boost one of its other lines of business – in the far less glamorous world of microcell LTE technology (it also sells Samsung Galaxy S IIIs through Sprint, so some glamour remains). The deal will help improve Sprint customer service quality in high density public venues. Sprint has also announced a novel way of expanding its customer base - through its Assurance Wireless brand, where the company actively pursues low-income users that are eligible for subsidized phone service through the FCC’s Lifeline program.

In the United Kingdom there is currently a substantial wireless operator mobile managed services bidding war taking place. A huge contract that Ericsson has had a lock on for the last seven years is expiring in 2012 and a number of big players are now vying for at least a billion dollars worth of contracts.

Earlier this week, RIM had some additional news of its own, though this time it was of the positive sort – with an appeals court responding positively to its arguments for the reversal of a $150 million penalty resulting from an initial loss in a patent lawsuit – welcome news indeed for RIM. That news won’t, however, prevent RIM from beginning layoffs next week, which is expected to hit approximately 3,000 employees.

Handsets are rapidly becoming a material factor in mobile service provider operating results. At Leap Wireless and US Cellular One, for example, both companies are finding handset costs to work as a drag on earnings. Even Verizon and AT&T feel the strong effects of device costs, especially the cost of the iPhone. There is no escaping these smartphone costs, but carriers are becoming more creative in working around them – or at least in looking to slow down their impact on earnings and costs. Tablets sales, on the other hand, are expected to explode in sales as more and more of them become LTE-enabled; they should continue to work well to drive new carrier business. T-Mobile, on the other hand, will not get the next generation iPhone (foiled again), and continues to lose customers in droves – along with continued significant drops in sales.

Nokia meanwhile is a company clearly in transition, ad clearly not one of the handset makers currently hurting wireless carrier operating costs and earnings. That may all change, however, once Nokia’s new Windows Phone 8 devices hit – and which Nokia is expected to introduce at Nokia World in a few weeks. Nokia this week also continued to sell off the remnants of its old businesses – this week it sold off its Qt business, at a tiny fraction of the $153 million it paid out to acquire it back in 2008. The sell off reaffirms Nokia’s embrace of the Windows Phone OS – a good thing for the company to have done. Never the less Nokia continues to struggle, and is finding a number of hurdles in North America, where, for example, it can’t even gain shelf space in AT&T’s retail stores.

Most of us are aware of Google’s and Android’s voice-based capabilities, and of course we all know Siri. Now, Nuance brings a new character to the game. This week the company introduced Nina, its new virtual assistant platform for allowing third party developers to incorporate voice-based “personalities” into customer service efforts. As companies consider adding such functionality, they also need to turn to the overall qualities of their websites, which are apparently not keeping up with the mobile times. New research from Keynote Competitive Research points to significant levels of mobile user dissatisfaction when accessing Web sites through mobile devices – something that can prove a huge competitive disadvantage to businesses.

Let’s wrap up for this mobile week by looking at some industry numbers – most of them rather large. A new survey from Juniper Research points to a huge rise in BYOD – to 350 million such users by 2017 – something that will create all sorts of security headaches for enterprise IT. Mobile transactions, according to another Juniper study, will likely hit $730 billion by 2017 – most of it driven by what Juniper only half-jokingly refers to as “couch commerce” – which will be primarily driven through tablets. And finally, on somewhat a bit of an esoteric mobile industry note, iSuppli’s latest industry report claims that DRAM market will reach $6.5 billion in 2012, with nothing but upside for growth over the next few years.

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of course. Check out Mobility TechZone directly for much, much more.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Don't miss the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Mobility Tech Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

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